Water damage can be quite a common issue, especially in properties with natural wooden floors. It can be characterized as any moisture accumulation on protected surfaces like parquet or hardwood flooring and it’s noticeable by physical touch or by warping and distortion of structures.
The goal of this text is to explore what needs to be done to treat this moisture exposure in hardwood flooring and how you can save valuable parts of your property.
Taking care of hardwood flooring with water damage
Water damage restoration and not only is an art form, not only due to the complexity of the job but also because it has a cosmetic characteristic to it. When dealing with damage from water on wooden flooring, one must be mindful of the warping effect that moisture can have to wood, even if it has been sealed and installed properly.
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Water can always find a way to seep between the joints and cracks, simply due to the nature of wooden joints and the lack of air-tight seals in wooden structures. Even wooden boats require some treatment and sealants to provide enough airtightness between the different joints of the planks.
In boatbuilding, for example, cotton is placed in between the planks of a boat (the cladding which makes the shape of the vessel). When it takes in water, it swells and creates a tight seal between the different pieces, preventing water from getting inside the bowels of the boat.
This can be done with wooden floors, though it’s rarely done as a precaution, so these types of wooden structures are a lot more prone to warping than those which have been designed to actually be in the water.
Dehumidification of wooden floors
One of the biggest issues with wood is that it keeps its hygroscopic properties from its natural state, according to the company GCDrestoration.com. An especially vulnerable part is the end grain of any wood, which is unprotected, acts as a straw for moisture, and due to its inherent capillary action, might even draw moisture very far inside of the wood.
This will cause an expansion, which creates uneven tensions between the various fibers causing warping. The second biggest issue with drying out wood is that if it’s done too quickly, it will not allow for the fibers to align back into place, causing uneven shrinkage of expanded spaces.
The misalignment of wooden fibers is what causes wood warping which is a very unpleasant sight, especially for wooden floors.
So when approaching water-damaged flooring, you need to be cautious of the rate of dehumidification. Granted, the floor might already be warped and it’s far better to have to sand or replace than have to deal with rot or mold and mildew discoloration.
Sanding, replacing, and varnishing
Sanding of damaged floors is almost always mandatory. This is a cosmetic step that will provide you with the desired results in cases where warping has not occurred or it has but to a lesser degree. It’s when major warping has occurred, that you need to consider replacing the affected elements with new ones.
Sanding a heavily warped board will not yield the desired results as it will create an uneven section of the floor, which will result in parts of the base of the board not connecting to the underfloor structure. Replaced, re-caulk and re-varnish what has been affected so you can get your floors back to their former glory.
This process is a vital step to water damage restoration, and professional companies who deal with such issues are well-versed in dealing with those particular scenarios. Acting quickly is the key to reducing the need for major surgery.